Friday, February 28, 2014

Feb is Done!

February has come and gone. And yes I know today is the last day, but tomorrow I've got a marathon and I don't want a list to get in the way of posting a race report.

Swim: 12,300 m 4 swims
Bike: 40 miles, 2 rides
Run: 94.2 miles, 10 runs, 1 marathon
Strength: 10 workouts
Yoga: 20 times

It felt REALLY good to get back in the pool on the reg. I can't wait to start hitting the RAM team practices 4 or 5 times a week for the 5 mile OWS training. 94 miles of running is pretty good too, just shy of my 100 mile target. yes. I'll take that. I missed a few Sundays on the yoga mat too. 20? not too shabby. I feel great, and I'm glad I got done what I got done this month.

The Umstead Trail Marathon is tomorrow. This makes 2 full marathons in 14 days trying to get a second star for the Marathon Maniacs. It's going to be a blast! I've been running in Umstead for years. it's going to be really fun to pull a full marathon out there. I've got the trail beard all queued up and ready to go! In fact, I snapped this during a test trail run last Saturday in Umstead.

Hopefully the weather will hold out! This pic it was 70* and sunny last Saturday. Tomorrow it supposed to be high of 49* and a chance of freezing rain. oh joy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

The kids getting hot chocolate before the big snow storm hit

Beard is growing in nicely, and the new haircut is starting to come together. after 3 weeks of growth all of the grays are showing up!
I know better than to show up at a trail race without a beard. Feeling ready to marathon again on saturday!

Evil Genius made a snow angel

And she lost her first tooth!

Proof of snow depth

Monday, February 24, 2014

Belated Snow Pics!

Ok ok I know. The snow was the week before the marathon so now I'm really late posting snow pics. It happens.  But Sunday it was 71* outside and sunny, so we worked in the garden some more. Even dug an old stump out of the yard. Seems like a perfect time to post snow pics.

This weekend I ran 10 miles out in Umstead state park just to try spinning the legs out. Next saturday I have to run an entire marathon in Umstead. My calfs my disagree with that; they certainly did on Saturday. Crazy time!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


This weekend was a blast! I got to hang out with a lot of old friends and totally blew away my own expectations for the race. I absolutely nailed a 3:46:32, and never walked for the first time ever. It was a special valentines day away without the kids, just special time with me and Kelley.

Friday afternoon we started later than expected, but still got the kids dropped off and headed down to Myrtle Beach. We made it to the expo in plenty of time.  After grabbing the gear and swag, I found the beer tent.

IPA for the win!
 The part about this weekend that I was really looking forward to was seeing so many friends. At the expo, we ran into my friend Laurie, who I haven't seen since high school! She actually graduated with my brother Michael, and was a church friend who now lives in Fayetteville with her family, and they were all at the expo too. Really cool to see her again.

After we actually got dinner from the bar upstairs from the expo. It was a really nice environment, great food, and it wasn't crowded. Pretty decently romantic spot for Valentines day! Plus Kelley got to sit in a tremendous oversized chair.
Totally interested.
We always stay at the La Quinta near the starting line, but now they have added a back road that leads to a Target. And you know that means we loaded up on cheap valentines day candy.

Saturday morning came early. 5:15 my alarm went off and I got downstairs to get some breakfast. I discovered it was pouring down very hard rain and it was really cold. Not a good combination. The race started at 6:30 with the crankchairs starting first at 6:25. I knew we were cutting it close when we saw the crankchairs cruising by as we were walking to the start line!  haha, that's a bit too close. Still, I got my good luck kiss, she went to the half marathon side of the street, and I started looking for the 3:45 pace group. They had a 3:35 and 4 hour pace group, so I figured I would get somewhere in between them.

I wasn't going to run with anything that wasn't waterproof, so no music. Figured I could just talk to people. It was 41* and raining at the start. I got to wish a "good luck" to the people I just elbowed my way through, and then we were off! Lots of people were running in trash bags. I didn't want to have to discard anything later, so I just took off. Hit start on the garmin when I got to the starting line and the rest is history.

Mile 1 was in the dark, but the rain did stop.The halfers started on the left side of the divided road, and the full marathoners on the right. Before the first turn we had to cross over the divided median, and I saw a bunch of the halfers looking at me funny. So of course I had to raise both hands in the air attack-zombie style and said "it's the attack of the full marathoners", which I thought was pretty damn funny. crickets. I got nothing out of those people. But I did split an 8:09!

Mile 2 the sun came up. Since the rain was gone and the streets were still crowded, there was plenty of challenge to puddle dodge. Split an 8:07.

At 2.75 miles, something strange happened. I got passed - by a girl. While this would not otherwise be noteworthy, it was the first time I got passed on the day. And she looked at me funny, like she was surprised to pass me. It was odd. Mile 3 split 8:17.

I could see the 3:35 pacer in there, and figured I would hang out near that guy for as long as I could since I still felt great. When Kelley checked the weather forecast the night before, every hour the chance of rain would decrease while the listed wind speed would increase. And the winds were supposed to swirl, so there would always be a headwind. fun times. I did start drafting. Here there was still plenty of people in the race who were bigger than me, so I put them between the wind and my face. While it might not have smelt particularly great, it did make things easier. And I don't think it was too noticeable.  Mile 4 in 8:12, I took my first gel at the mile 4 aide station.

Mile 5 goes out by the airport, and there is usually a band playing there. This time as I ran by I got to thank them for coming out, then they started playing Folsom Prison Blues. 8:46 thanks to the extra time to take the gel.

There is a timing mat through this little shopping village at the turn around, then back towards the airport. Mile 6 was 8:12, then mile 7 was 8:31.  As I was running back towards Ocean Blvd, I could see all of the runners still going to the shopping village. Right before we split off, I found Kelley at my mile 7.5 and got to say hi to her and blow a kiss. Very motivating to know that she was getting through the miles with a smile. Mile 8 was 8:30, and I took another gel then.

Once you get on Ocean Blvd, you stay there until about mile 21. That one road has the majority of the course, but by then it's over an hour into the race so the sun is up, there's a tailwind pushing you forward (sometimes), and you get to see the boardwalk and the ocean.  It's beautiful, and monotonous, and you just let your mind wander and watch the miles run away. Mile 9 was 8:20, then mile 10 in 8:28. Right after the mile 11 marker you start seeing signs for the halfers to split off, which they do. Once the vast majority of the people peel off and head for the finish line, you get a slight depression and a peaceful calm at the same time.  Mile 11 was 8:17. I found another guy from Raleigh who thought I was crazy, but he had a wild beard and was pretty fun to talk to. He was doing a relay, and ran from mile 6 to 10. Great talking to you Tim, ended up being some fun miles.

At the mile 12 aide station I had to stop and poop. I took another gel first, then had to wait on the port-a-let for a little bit. If you've been counting, all of these miles so far have been in the 8 minute range. Mile 12 took 8:14, then mile 13 was 9:49, thanks to about a 90 second crapper stop. It felt good to lighten the load, but I was ready to get back out there.

I hit the 13.1 halfway point at 1:50:44, not a bad split. Again, I was just feeling good and taking each mile as it came to me without any real feeling of push or elevated heart  rate. Pretty crazy indeed.

The second half of the course goes up into North Myrtle Beach. The starting line is on 21st ave, and we finally turn off of Ocean Blvd somewhere around 68th st, if that gives you a frame of reference for how far into North MB we get. Now, start by understanding that there is nothing interesting about North Myrtle, nothing happens there, it's just a few small hotels and lots of beachfront houses. I don't remember much about these miles, but I'm not sure if that's because they are boring, or mindless, or just all looked exactly the same. They were all uphill, however. Which I thought was odd.

I had no expectations to negative split this course but you can certainly see my interest level wain in these miles.
Mile 14: 8:22,
mile 15: 8:38,
mile 16: 8:36 (took another gel),
mile 17: 8:19 (ok must have had a tailwind),
mile 18: 8:44,
mile 19: 8:29,
mile 20: 8:34 and another gel

And that was the most interesting part of North Myrtle. Consistent, plain, meets expectations.

Mile 21 went in 8:58, that's where the course turned and we started running uphill into a stiff headwind again. Heading back to the start/finish line there's a couple of out-and-back spurs to keep the competition in sight. I knew the aide stations at miles 16 and 22 had gels provided on the course, so I took those. Mile 22 took 8:50.

My personal best distance record was 21 miles without walking. So this time I really wanted to get that gel at the mile 22 aide station without having to take a walk break, and I did! So excited to finally break through that one. And I still felt like I didn't need to walk after that, so I figured I'd shoot for 23. Mile 23 took 9:23, but I didn't walk through it. Finally, the first mile over 9 minutes besides the poopy mile 12. This time it was fatigue that slowed me down. My quads were burning. My ass was on fire. Calves were totally starting to melt down. But I was not dehydrated, so I didn't hit the wall at mile 23 like I usually do.

Mile 24 was 8:47, and this might be the biggest surprise. Again, no walking, extending that PDR. To turn in a mile in the 8's that late in a marathon is insane. Never thought I would do that. Mile 25 took 9:19, that's more like what I was expecting. Actually, these really late miles for me are usually in the 10 to 13 minute range, so this whole thing was uncharted territory. And I still wasn't walking. Just trying to maintain good running form. I didn't have to go fast, just had to keep going. I think it was around mile 20 or 22 when I felt confident about my ability to break 4 hours.  But mile 26 was 9:09, and that's out of this world crazy.  I was finally back at Broadway cruising up towards 21st ave again. When I saw that finishing chute I knew it was real.

Not only was I going to break 4 hours (goal!) and set a PR that I didn't expect to get, I was going to smash that PR and might actually get under 3:50, which would also surpass most of my friend's marathon PR's.  And I never had to walk. That was totally unexpected and incredible. I never actually believed that I could run the entire length of a marathon without walking or falling apart in the end. insane.

I came through the finish line on fire and hit stop on the garmin. I got my medal, then looked at the garmin. When I read it, I screamed it. I read it again out (and very) loud - THREE FORTY SIX THIRTY FIVE YEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHHH shouted as loud as I could, and the announcer guy even said how happy we apparently were to finally be finished running 26.2 miles. He was right.  I'm not a 3:46 marathoner. I'm maybe one of the typical middle/rear middle of the pack guys who's going to struggle and train hard and maybe break 4 hours once. My old PR was 3:56 in Charleston marathon 2012, and I never actually expected to break 4 hours again. I'm 38, way too old to get any faster. But I just did, and by around 10 minutes. that's absurd. No way I would have predicted that.

As soon as I finished screaming for pure joy, Kelley was right there. She ran the half in 2:33, after only getting in 2 training runs since early december thanks to a piriformis problem. She had enough time to go back to the hotel, get some warm clothes, and make it back down in time.

Right before the scream

and right after!
As soon as I started making my way out of the finishers chute, I got caught by my good friend from college Meredith. Haven't been able to hug that neck for maybe 18 years (she graduated before me) and this, right now, is the time when I run into her? I still haven't come down from the endorphins, still jacked up high and crying over my time and that's when I have to introduce Kelley and meet her friend too. Not exactly my most photogenic moment. Loved getting to see her, but that was crap timing. We need to catch up when I can put together two coherent thoughts.

Finally, I've calmed down enough to take in some fluids and food, and process what just happened.

wow.  just wow. that was totally unexpected.

So was this!

Kelley captioned this "we found an elephant at the finish line of the marathon", and I started making jokes about how I know I've put on a little weight but that's just cruel. ha! The fence here is just to keep the beer drinkers in, not the elephants out.  Interesting fact, did you know elephants eat Fruit Loops? The trainer guy would throw fruit loops and peppermint candy on the ground and the animal would pick them up with his trunk and eat it.

Afterward we got enough fluids and walked around a bit, it was time to head back to the hotel. The elephant followed us out, and we got a few more pics.

No fence or anything, we're just walking down the street when the beast comes up behind us


That's a swinging tale
Have you ever wanted to Stranger Rodeo an elephant? I was seriously tempted to grab hold of that tail and see how long I can hang on. Maybe if I hadn't just finished a marathon. At the time, the elephant was walking much faster than I was. Opportunity lost.

What made this marathon different?
I've been trying to figure out why I was able to hang on and suffer longer this time than ever before. Maintaining good form is key, yes. As is the mental capacity to keep pushing out miles when your legs are on fire and you want to stop. But I really  think it's got to be the plants!

My fitness overall is still elevated from the B2B full iron distance in October, yes. that takes a long time to calm down. But we did the Paradigm Diet challenge in December, and those habits stuck around. We still eat a mostly vegan diet, and it's become easy to know when my weight is up a few pounds or I just feel heavy from eating too much sodium or meat. And we now know how to make that stuff all go away within a couple of days. I finished the Challenge at 175 lbs, 18% bodyfat - that was in December - and I hit the starting line - in February - at 175 lbs, 18% bodyfat. This was done on purpose. I know when I'm not properly hydrated and need to make a smoothie for breakfast the next day. I know when we need to make some Colon Blow for dinner to push some of that weekend meat through the system.  Overall I feel better, have more energy, and look younger than I did before thanksgiving.

When this becomes a long term habit, the long term effect leads to increased endurance and greater overall fitness. The extent of this was totally unexpected. I mean just 4 months ago I did the Ironman marathon almost an hour slower! (4:37 run split) Nobody is going to claim they can take an hour off of their marathon time in 4 months. It's got to be the plants.

The Paradigm Diet - the basis of our fueling
Starting the Paradigm Detox Day 1
Finishing the Paradigm Detox with a 5k PR

What Else did we do?
After getting all cleaned up, we hit the Planet Hollywood for lunch, and it was quite overrated. Then we hit the outlet stores for some shopping. I got some Kenenth Cole dress shoes that are beautiful (yes I'm secure enough in my masculinity to admit that). Then we got to meet up with the Boys!

Dean, Pat, and Jon are fraternity brothers from college. Pat ran the half, as did all of their wives. I was looking for these people while I was on the course, and they were looking for me. We all get together in the spring for a guy's weekend of heavy drinking, there's about 10 of us that usually jump in. But today we all got to hang out for a couple of beers before dinner, then had a really nice meal together. We all left the kids at home, so this was really special and fun. Like I said, on this trip, getting to see old friends and spend time alone with Kelley was just as important as running the race.

Sunday morning we cleaned up, grabbed breakfast and hit the road back to Raleigh. The whole weekend was fun, social, and fast. The only thing I could have asked for was more of the same. Kelley got to see some people that I didn't. I love being plant-powered, glad I pulled out such a strong race. And I'm grateful for a quick recovery too.

Now let's turn it up and hit the trails! March 1st (yes 2 weeks away) is the Umstead Trail Marathon. Nothing like 26.2 in the woods, this is going to be fun. It's another 1 star Marathon Maniacs streak!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordy Wordless Wednesday

EG had to be pulled off of the bike game

But she did find some swagger in the gift shop

Wow, 8 pics for a wordless wednesday? This is really a catch up post that I've been too busy to put together. We had some fun with the Hightowers last weekend at a Dave & Busters that recently opened up, and had a blast! Of course Evil Genius was going nuts in there.

I wore a pink shirt to work the other day! It actually looked really good, the ladies in the church choir didn't believe me when I told them I actually dressed myself that day. They thought Kelley picked it out!

Bigun was under the weather a bit, and Kelley had a meeting at the school. So I got a nice helper in the office for a few hours! Then we all went out to lunch.

Kelley's going to kill me for this one. We had a skating event with the kids school that ended up being a lot of fun!

Getting the kids helping me out in the garden!

This weekend in the garden we added some compost & manure, it will really settle in and provide the most ideal soil for planting. Really starting to come together. Also, I'm growing a beard again and might even try a new haircut.

You can see the difference between the two beds. The bed on the right we finished, turned the soil over again to work in the additives, then raked it smooth and got all of the non-rotten organic matter out of there. It is ready for planting! Bed on the left still needs to be turned and smoothed.
Kelley and I went to the visitation thursday night for my friends who lost their baby last week. It was pretty sad, but they are going to pull through it ok. There was a lot of people there! They know how much love and support they have to get through this difficult time, and they will get through it ok. We were unable to attend the funeral on Friday, that's when Bigun was hanging in my office.  The kids don't really know what happened, and I'm ok with that.

This weekend is the Myrtle Beach marathon! I want to apologize now to my feet and my liver for what I'm about to put them through. Can't wait to get down there and run hard! and see all of my peeps again. Ah that's going to be fantastic. 

I'm also excited to mention that I made the 2014 AAA Carolinas Triathlon team! So excited to be training and racing with this great, fun, supportive group of fellow athletes. I really enjoyed promoting my sponsors and supporting my teammates last year with this group. This should make 2014 a lot more fun.

If I don't get to post again before then, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday's Wordless Struggle

There are no words.  I can't imagine.  I am left totally speechless.

There is a girl that sits in front of me during choir practice at the church who recently gave birth to twins - a boy and a girl. The boy was larger and mostly healthy, but consistent with a twin born early and only about 3 lbs. The girl was born at 1 lb 6 oz and with Down's Syndrome. Last week they turned 3 months old, and had both been growing well, out of the NICU and living at home. We got a good picture of the girl a couple of Sunday's ago with my kids after the Sunday service where we baptized 18 people.

Yesterday that sweet little girl passed away. No parent should ever outlive a child. But to have her for 3 months means you get attached. You share that love and then it gets taken away. You have a house full of twin stuff and double strollers that will now only be for one.

You still have a healthy baby boy. You still have a church family and a choir family that will share the burden and immerse you in Christian love. My heart is absolutely shattered for her and I'm having a tough time not crying in my cubicle today. There are no words to comfort that situation.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello Feb & Taper! 1 goal down

First, here's how Jan 2014 played out:

Swim: 6500 m, 2 swims
Bike: 45 miles, 3 rides
Run: 122 miles, 14 runs
Strength: 13 times
Yoga: 25 times

No racing in Jan, but I was going Long and Lean in 2014. 122 miles of running is a great way to start off the year. I'm running 3-5 days a week. There was some unexpected rest days thanks to all of the snow that we've had. I should be swimming and biking once a week at least but we had a lot of swim practices cancelled this month. The strength work and yoga are dead on target.

Also, I knocked off my first goal for the year!! This last week was my first ever 50 mile running week. Saturday was Feb 1, so it's not in Jan's totals. But I put up three separate 10 mile runs during the week, and finished off the 50 with a 20 miler on Saturday.  One of my stated goals for 2014 was to knock off a 50 mile week. Even in ultramarathon training back in 2012 I never got over 40 miles a week. So checking that off was really cool.

I could totally get used to the 10 mile runs. Now it seems like the first 5 miles just fly by without even breaking a sweat. Overloading distance really builds muscular endurance, and I can totally see why fast people use 70 to 100 mile weeks to build speed. I was just posting about making progress in yoga last week, I hope that this will bring some progress on my speedwork as well. I've been stuck at a basic 8 minute mile for a few years now and hoping that's not a peak.

This was also my last 20 mile run before the marathons. The next few weeks look like this:

Recovery week
Taper/Myrtle Beach Marathon
Recovery week
Taper/Umstead Trail Marathon

So that's going to be fun.  Here's to a great February!

And on the flip side of that coin, Philip Seymore Hoffman died today. He was always one of my favorite actors.  If this is what 2014 has in store, let's just sell off everything now, clench every dime you can get in your cold fists, and hold up in the woods. Somebody call me when it's 2015.